Ok, this is where things get a little blurry to me and my memory fails a bit. I was in such a haze because I could not believe I even made it to the start of this race, that everything started to run together so my times may be off a bit. 8am “correct time” came the start of all the tandems and team boats, including us. When the countdown started and the gun went off that was it, I was in it for the long haul. Through the hundred’s of people watching us paddling out of Kaw Point I could hear my father-law cheer us on as we made our way to the confluence on the Missouri river. Once we paddled into the Missouri everything came down to two things 1. Paddle and not die and 2. Have fun. The joking and general shenanigans pretty much started as soon as the cannon fired. All of the teams in “Normal Boats” would pass us, or us pass them and we would get these looks as if we just got let out of an asylum for the week. Those 5 crazy people are actually paddling that thing down the river. As we would come upon boats you would, by now, get the traditional “SUP!!!” out of Madison and see people paddle away from us smiling. Without trying to sound like a boat load of selfish people, I think we gave people a little much-needed laughter and motivation. We obviously took this race very serious but you’re not going to make it through a race like this without having fun. After a few hours of paddling, well, 50 miles of it we landed in Lexington which was our first checkpoint. I seriously don’t remember much about stopping here because we were only there for a few minutes to resupply our food and water. We took a few minutes to rest then we hopped back on Kitty and started to make our way 23 miles to Waverly Missouri. It was approaching dark, maybe 8:30 or so when we reached Waverly and to our amazement, Larry and Martee provided our entire crew with pasta and salads. After a day of granola bars, V8, and fruit the carbs and filling food was a blessing. I think Daren was the most excited about dinner and pretty much said I have the coolest in-laws EVER. We started to get ready for the next leg of the race, putting on warmer clothes and strapping down the excessively heavy but super awesome navigation light box I created and we shoved off. After about 10 minutes of paddling I noticed Shane putting duct tape over some of the red and green lights, ok, I may have gone overboard on the light system but it was still super awesome. The next stop was not an official checkpoint but the short 32-mile paddle meant we would be able to get a couple hours of sleep. We arrived in Miami around 2:30 or 3 am with a park packed full of racers. Elissa was about to secure us a great spot where we could get a few hours of sleep. Now, here is where we all started to learn about each other a little bit more, mainly about me. Apparently, I snore loud enough to keep the coyote’s away. Personally, I think everyone was just giving me shit because I have NEVER heard myself snore and I sleep pretty good so I know it has never woke me up.
We woke up around 5 am to get ready to leave. The coolest part about Miami is the entire town of about 50 people come out to help cook breakfast lunches and dinners. A good solid Biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon and a pancake hit the spot, lot’s of calories for the 36 mile paddle to Glasgow. Once back on the water everyone was in good spirit’s, well, as good as could be for running on 2 hours of sleep and a chilly 5am paddle. Shane is right when he say’s that as soon as the sun comes up and the air warms up you get a huge rush of energy. Almost like a solar panel charging a battery. Glasgow was our next check point and we arrived around 1 pm or so. The city park had showers, a food vendor and plenty of room to stretch out and get a much-needed mid day rest until I got a knock on the window of Larry’s truck. It was Elissa saying that we are shoving off because Greystroke showed up and they are leaving too. This sent Shane into high gear, we had not seen nor heard from Greystroke, the 3 man board aka 1 Dick 2 Chicks. Then all of a sudden they show up out of nowhere. Grey stroke is half the speed we are and they have caught up to us. We knew why they were only stopping for supplies and shoving off, they were sleeping on the board and constantly moving. We had two more people and decided to take rest stops, this was allowing them to gain on us. Well, Shane was not having that, we started paddling and the 60 mile or so paddle with a short stop in Boonville Mo. We decided to split that distance in half and stop at Franklin Island to stretch our legs and lay down for a few minutes ….. Some of us held hands, it was a moment of delirium. Franklin island was not that far from Booneville but it is one of those meaningful stops because the soft sand is inviting on your feet and the locals keep a huge warming fire at night for paddlers to enjoy. After a spirit lifting break, it was getting late again. I think we arrived at Coopers at 2 or 3 am. Coopers Landing is a world of its own, it’s a form of Hippieville with an extremely loving atmosphere. Every single person was there with good vibes and coffee. It is an Oasis for most of us. After another 2 hour nap, the drill Sargent and his wife woke us up again to get ready to make the anticipated run to Jefferson City. Jeff City has a lot of meaning veteran 340 folk because it is where Joe Wilson devoted hi life to give paddlers and people from all over the world a really peaceful and inviting riverfront to stop at. Wood art litters the property and the landscaping gives it an inviting feel, not to mention the Chik filet. We took this time to rest and get a sign of civilization and call our friends and family to tell them how we are doing. Hermann was the next stop and one of my anticipated stops, I love this little German town. It is 46 miles by river to Hermann from Jeff City, so it is a little longer stretch for that break time. Leaving Jeff City we made it to Herman around 6pm. This is where we ran into James for the second time. James is part of our little sup family but he runs safety stops for the 340 and it is always a sight to see that man standing in the water welcoming every paddler that arrives. Once up the ramp, Larry and Martee have a spread of food cooked including maid rites. But to Shanes surprise, His mother in law brought the kids to see him and Lis. I think this is the boost Shane needed. I could only imagine how he felt getting those hugs from his kids. By now everyone was looking pretty rough. So rough that to some of us concrete was comfy.
Hermann to Klondike by way of Washington.
About an hour after we left Hermann we were trying to decide to take a nap, there was a few boat ramps between Hermann and Klondike, if we made it to the boat ramp halfway we were going to be able to sleep for like 5 hours. this would put us making it to klondike early in the morning, making the finish to St Charles a late morning arrival. This is what we had hoped for until we got a text on our phones saying a severe storm was set to hit around 2am. well shit it was around 11 at night and we decided to try to make it to Washington to beat the storm. We took turns napping, mainly Shane and I, and this is where the ilusive FART Snore really came into light. at around 1:45 we noticed the lights to Washington and it was a blessing in the sky. Huge front park with a covered pavilion. We set up camp under the pavilion so when the storms did come we would be covered. This was the best 3 year nap I had ever had. 5am came around and it did storm but it ws nothing severe. we packed out camp up headed out to Klondike, this would be our last check point before the finish. 27 miles and I we will have completed the MR340. We took minimal gear so we could push to make our boat fast. this would prove to suck because we started running low on water. The headwinds zapped out right out of us. We got caught in a little rainy weather the last day and to me at least, it made paddle time on the board a lil cozy. We just threw our rain gear on and let the rain calm the river.
Cliff Hanger, he push to the Finish part 3 comes out Friday